The story, based on fact, of a late 18th century behavioural scientist's attempts to condition a wild boy found in the woods in the ways of 'civilisation'. The confrontation of Rousseau's noble savage with Western scientific rationalism makes for a film with enormous philosophical implications: emotional subjectivity versus scientific objectivity, nature versus nurture, society versus the individual. Given the semi-documentary treatment and the subject itself, the film could have been excruciatingly dull in lesser hands. In fact it's as lucid and wryly witty a film as you could wish for, uncluttered by superfluous period detail. A beautiful use of simple techniques - black-and-white photography, Vivaldi music, even devices as outmoded as the iris - give it a very refreshing quality. The use of much voice-over from Dr Itard's original journals, set against images patently contradicting the scientist's detached assumptions, make for some pretty ironies, and fundamentally question the morality of much scientific investigation, as well as attempting to evaluate the worth of many of our social constructs (such as education). A deeply moving film, dedicated to Jean-Pierre Léaud, the actor who plays Truffaut's semi-autobiographical hero, Antoine Doinel.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||François Truffaut, Jean Gruault|